- weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish: a silly writer.
- absurd; ridiculous; irrational: a silly idea.
- stunned; dazed: He knocked me silly.
- Cricket. (of a fielder or the fielder's playing position) extremely close to the batsman's wicket: silly mid off.
- Archaic. rustic; plain; homely.
- Archaic. weak; helpless.
- Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
- Informal. a silly or foolish person: Don't be such a silly.
Origin of silly
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sillily
Ministers have acted most sillily in breaking up the burgher volunteers in large towns.Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume V (of 10)
John Gibson Lockhart
I like letting my faculties live till night in a deshabille; let us talk easily and sillily of the affairs of the day.Devereux, Complete
And so he stood, sillily smiling, until Richard Travis arose from his desk and came forward to meet her.The Bishop of Cottontown
John Trotwood Moore
I was quite taken aback, and before I could find myself had sillily stammered, “I—I am a gentleman.”The Sea-Wolf
- lacking in good sense; absurd
- frivolous, trivial, or superficial
- dazed, as from a blow
- obsolete homely or humble
- (modifier) cricket (of a fielding position) near the batsman's wicketsilly mid-on
- Also called: silly-billy plural -lies informal a foolish person
Word Origin and History for sillily
Old English gesælig "happy, fortuitous, prosperous" (related to sæl "happiness"), from Proto-Germanic *sæligas (cf. Old Norse sæll "happy," Old Saxon salig, Middle Dutch salich, Old High German salig, German selig "blessed, happy, blissful," Gothic sels "good, kindhearted"), from PIE *sele- "of good mood; to favor," from root *sel- (2) "happy, of good mood; to favor" (cf. Latin solari "to comfort," Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay, merry, joyous").
This is one of the few instances in which an original long e (ee) has become shortened to i. The same change occurs in breeches, and in the American pronunciation of been, with no change in spelling. [Century Dictionary]
The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c.1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c.1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886) in knocked silly, etc. Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories). Silly Putty trademark claims use from July 1949.